Incidence of new-onset atrial fibrillation in COVID-19 is associated with increased epicardial adipose tissue

Leandro Slipczuk, Francesco Castagna, Alison Schonberger, Eitan Novogrodsky, Damini Dey, Ulrich P. Jorde, Jeffrey M. Levsky, Luigi Di Biase, Mario J. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) can predict AF in the general population. We aimed to determine if CAC and EAT measured by computed tomographic (CT) scanning can predict new-onset AF in patients admitted with COVID-19 disease. Methods: We performed a retrospective, post hoc analysis of all patients admitted to Montefiore Medical Center with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis from March 1st to June 23rd, 2020, who had a non-contrast CT of the chest within 5 years prior to admission. We determined ordinal CAC scores and quantified the EAT volume and examined their relationship with inpatient mortality. Results: A total of 379 patients were analyzed. There were 16 events of new-onset AF (4.22%). Patients who developed AF during the index admission were more likely to be male (75 vs 47%, p < 0.001) and had higher EAT (129.5 [76.3–197.3] vs 91.0 [60.0–129.0] ml, p = 0.049). There were no differences on age (68 [56–71] vs 68 [58–76] years; p = 0.712), BMI (28.5 [25.3–30.8] vs 26.9 [23.1–31.8] kg/m2; p = 0.283), ordinal CAC score (3 [1–6] vs 2 [0–4]; p = 0.482), or prevalence of diabetes (56.3 vs 60.1%; p = 0.761), hypertension (75.0 vs 87.3%, p = 0.153), or coronary artery disease (50.0 vs 39.4%, p = 0.396). Patients with new-onset AF had worse clinical outcomes (death/intubation/vasopressors) (87.5 vs 44.1%; p = 0.001). Conclusion: Increased EAT measured by non-contrast chest CT identifies patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at higher risk of developing new-onset AF. Patients with new-onset AF have worse clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-391
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • COVID-19
  • Coronary artery calcium
  • Epicardial adipose tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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